NORTH Melbourne could have minimised the damage in Friday night's preliminary final loss to the Sydney Swans, but coach Brad Scott wanted his team to play a game style that made winning an option.
The Kangaroos were outclassed in their first preliminary final since 2007 by a Swans outfit that was at its devastating best, recording 41 scoring shots to 20 in a 71-point win at ANZ Stadium.
Conceding that even North's best football might not have been enough to get near the Swans, Scott said he didn't want his team to simply go into damage control.
"There's no doubt we could have reduced the margin," Scott said on Friday night.
"We could have set up a game style cognisant of all their strengths that would have made it a closer game, but I didn't feel if we’d done that we would have won the game.
"We weren't up here to try and be as competitive as possible and lose; we were up here to try and win, and that made us vulnerable at times.
"We wanted to come up and attack and play a game style that gave us a chance to win, (but) we couldn't execute it."
Scott said North Melbourne's effort to reach a preliminary final was a milestone for the group, but added it wasn't a result anyone was satisfied with.
"It doesn't give us any credits in the bank or any points next year – we start on zero points like everybody else," he said.
"In my experience, very few teams come through with a particular group and go all the way.
"Brisbane made a preliminary final in the late 90s, got bundled out, and came back with a vengeance.
"As an assistant at Collingwood, we made a prelim in 2007, got bundled out, and came back and won a premiership."
Scott said he was confident North Melbourne would improve in 2015 through the "organic growth" of its list, but there was also room to add players through trade and free agency.
"We feel we're building. Our list is going to get better next year, not worse," he said.
"We also feel we're in a very good position to add some players as well.
"The players themselves are looking to build something, and I feel like we’re building.
"We're looking at 2015 and beyond … we'll look at all avenues to improve our list."
Scott kept his players on the ground post-match on Friday night and held a lengthy meeting in the rooms soon after.
He encouraged his players not to fade away after making significant ground in 2014.
"We've got a real carrot now," he said. "We could almost touch it, we were that close to it.
"While it's bitterly disappointing tonight, we've got to make sure that feeling drives us.
"The players have got to have fresh in their minds why the Swans were better than us tonight and we've got to go on and improve it."